Usd Announces New Center To Emphasize The Value Of The Humanities

Preparing students for purposeful lives and successful careers, the University of San Diego is set to open a centrally located Humanities Center on Thursday, October 13, 5:30 p.m. The Humanities Center will provide a space for the campus and the San Diego community to study and explore the human condition and the limitless ways human beings understand and interact with the world. 


Noelle Norton, dean of USD’s College of Arts and Sciences, who led the campaign for the Center, says “We believe an understanding of history, art, philosophy, literature and language, is relevant for all citizens. In order to make reasonable, ethical and informed life choices as individuals and members of local and global communities, we need to think broadly and inclusively about our place in the universe. Our plan is to help our students connect the liberal arts: past, present and future.”


Associate Professor of Philosophy, Brian Clack, PhD, has agreed to direct the Humanities Center. Clack says, “Our Humanities Center will have four primary thrusts: collaborative research; digital humanities; interdisciplinary curriculum development; and public humanities. Our Center will offer unique opportunities for engagement between faculty and undergraduate students. We are also excited to welcome members of the San Diego community to become involved and engaged with our Center.”


In the months ahead, the Humanities Center will launch new programs that inspire the study and integration of the humanities. Two programs that are already underway focus on palliative and veterans care. The Philosophy for Veterans program, for example, is a unique partnership between USD and the Travis Manion Foundation that resurrects the notion that philosophy is “medicine for the soul.” The program opens concepts of philosophy to every person and investigates notions such as: the scope and nature of belief and knowledge; the character of ethics and of moral responsibility; and the very possibility of a purposeful and happy life.


Major financial support for the Humanities Center was provided by San Diego resident and parent of a USD alumna, Carol Vassiliadis. Ms. Vassiliadis generously donated $500,000 to renovate the space. “I am a great believer in a classical approach,” Vassiliadis says. “The humanities are the core of every fine university and round out the student experience, putting everything they’ve learned into perspective.” 


“The humanities, as we’re focusing on them, is holistic,” says Clack. “This center will allow students to experience firsthand the many ways their studies can affect people – and the strange, sad, beautiful and wondrous experience of being human. Our Center will bring together what students are learning in various disciplines in a unified and integrated way.” 


Through the Center’s Digital Humanities initiative, faculty and students will collaborate to blend technology and rigorous humanities scholarship to generate and record new knowledge that will enhance understanding of all forms of human thought for generations to come. 


The Center’s focus on developing new interdisciplinary curriculum will ensure the Center’s academic partners engage faculty from across disciplines. Exploring intractable challenges, such as sustainability and social entrepreneurship, from integrated academic disciplines will better prepare USD students to address societal challenges post-graduation. 


The San Diego community will have several opportunities to become involved with the Humanities Center throughout the academic year. Last year, the College of Arts and Sciences launched the Illume Speaker Series, a series of public events which invites distinguished thought leaders whose work focuses on humanistic study to speak to the broader San Diego community. The 2016 – 2017 schedule of Illume Speaker Series events can be found by clicking here.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Pamela Gray Payton
(619) 260-4681